Carsten Höller: Decision

4 out of 5 stars
3 out of 5 stars
(24user reviews)
Carsten Holler, 'Isomeric Slides', 2015. Photo: David Levene
Carsten Höller, 'Flying Mushrooms', 2015 © Carsten Höller. Courtesy of the artist, Photo: Linda Nylind
 (Linda Nylind)
Linda NylindCarsten Holler at the Hayward Gallery in London. Photo by Linda Nylind. 6/6/2015.
Carsten Höller, 'Dice', 2014 © the artist, photo: Ben Rowe
 (Linda Nylind)
Linda NylindCarsten Holler at the Hayward Gallery in London. Photo by Linda Nylind. 6/6/2015.
 (Linda Nylind)
Linda NylindCarsten Holler at the Hayward Gallery in London. Photo by Linda Nylind. 6/6/2015.
 (Linda Nylind)
Linda NylindCarsten Holler at the Hayward Gallery in London. Photo by Linda Nylind. 6/6/2015.
 (Linda Nylind)
Linda NylindCarsten Holler at the Hayward Gallery in London. Photo by Linda Nylind. 6/6/2015.
Carsten Höller, 'Phi Wall I', 2001. © the artist. Photo: Marc Domage

The artist who put participation into art gets his first UK retrospective before the Hayward closes for renovation.

Carsten Höller’s art requires you to use your hands quite a lot. Whether it’s finding your way through pitch-black metal corridors from the entrance to the lower gallery; gripping on to the handrail of a flying machine that soars over Waterloo Bridge; attempting to get inside a giant die; taking a red and white pill that may or may not be a placebo or getting yourself in position before you whoosh down a slide upon exiting the show.

Hands aside, the key element in the German-Belgian artist’s survey is decision-making, hence the exhibition’s title. From the moment you step into the gallery’s foyer, Höller puts us through our paces by offering numerous choices. So does it matter if you pick entrance A or entrance B into the show? Or take the left flying machine as oppose to the right flying machine? Yes and no, as ultimately everyone is going to have a different experience regardless of what they pick. It’s the fact that we have to choose. Höller disturbs our expectations by using perception-altering effects.

For those less willing to get strapped into a flying machine – which I highly recommend – fortunately Höller isn’t all about the spectacle and merely observing is as active as partaking. Other works play with duplicate scenarios, like a series of TV monitors on which seven sets of twins address one another, or the competition between two rival music groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo played out over two film projections.

This alternating between direct engagement and composed contemplation is what ripples through the show. It doesn’t matter that some of the propositions don’t quite work, like the ‘Pinocchio Effect’ that’s supposed to make your nose grow or compress: mine did neither. Höller urges us to consider alternative possibilities. I mean, what would it be like if we could all leave work via a slide? We’d surely exit the office with a smile on our face.

Freire Barnes


Extended opening hours for the last few days of the exhibition:
Thu, Fri 11am-10pm; Sat, Sun 10am-10pm.

Average User Rating

3.1 / 5

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1 of 1 found helpful

I was a tad over excited when i went to this exhibition as i had heard from friends about the flight section and had seen the slide! Like a small child i was anxious to get in and get started. Luckily i had been advised to go straight to the top floor and get in the queue for the flight section as it can be busy. Well it wasn't a very busy day but sure enough i had to wait nearly an hour before i was able to get my harness on and go flying. I was determined to give this a go and it was worth the wait although i was disappointed that it didn't go over the edge of the Hayward building and therefore be even higher. It's pretty low and not scary at all but does feel kind of relaxed and a bit surreal. The exhibition as a whole i found a little perplexing as it wasn't always clear what you had to do to get interactive with some of the exhibits. The upside down glasses made me feel very sick and the vibrating Pinnochio syndrome - essentially a vibrator on your bicep - didn't really work for me or my guest. It was all worth it for the slide though, and how i wanted to do this again and again! A speedy, descent to the inevitable shop and exit worth waiting for even if it's all over in about 15 seconds. I can't wait for the slide on the side of the Acelor Mittal Orbit to open in 2016!

1 of 1 found helpful

A little bit underwhelming, especially if you have small children and are used to spending time in playgrounds. Too many safety-conscious guards in black t-shirts monitoring you.

Wd be better to use other methods of mind altering (glass of wine and watch the sunset over Waterloo Bridge...)


When I woke up Sunday morning hang over free... I didn't think my day would end up at an exhibition that stimulated the senses and the mind. But I made the decision to go and make more decisions at this amazing exhibition. The exhibition is all about making decisions. From which corridor you take, to what you look at next, there is no structure and it is up to you to choose your journey. But I did not choose to wait in the lines for some activities. My friend Phoebe and I hired bikes and had a scenic trip from Shoreditch to the Hayward gallery on Southbank. We stopped off for some pictures along the way that showed sunny London at its best. (See pic below) When we arrived we travelled through dark decision corridors to flying mushrooms, to the pill clock and wore upside down goggles. A little tip... If you want to add some colour to your day, just outside the Hayward gallery is an artwork that pops with colour. Your Instagram will love you for it (See pic below)


The entrance to this exhibit had me feeling like it might be the best thing I'd been to yet. But while some parts of this exhibit were cool but most (read: all) required a long wait in the queue, which is odd if everyone had to book into a time slot - not sure what this means for hayward gallery organisational skills.

You can eat a "pill" within the first few installations, although I wish I'd seen the bin and piles of chewed up pills that had been spat out to the side before popping it in my mouth. I then felt the need to drink water throughout the exhibit. The movie from two different perspectives was probably my favourite installation and well worth a look, because at that point on you will be waiting hours to do anything. The flying harness was the one I was looking forward to doing the most, but upon getting there we were informed it was a 2 hour wait.

The only redeeming factor was going down the slide... however you only do this once as you exit.


Carsten Holler’s Decision exhibition at the Hayward Gallery can be described as an interesting experience. You enter the exhibition by passing through a set of dark tunnels that is all a little surreal. Then leading to rotating floating mushrooms and a pill clock. Considered strange and unusual with several interactive exhibits to entertain visitors such as the pinocchio experience, huge dice, flying machines and upside down visor goggles. Unfortunately attending during a busy weekend, we kind of underestimated how long the queues would be for the more popular parts so it is recommended ideally to save time to get there early or go during a weekday when it is quieter. The highlight of the show is definitely the slide that is a lot of fun and bound to bring out the inner child within you.


A mixed bag, ranging from the fantastically disorienting (the upside-down goggles) to the pointless (having twins say different things isn't terribly profound). The queues make this seem less like an art exhibit and more like a theme park. But if you're okay with waiting and find most modern art too stodgy, this could be a good one for you.


I nearly didn’t get past the first exhibit – a series of dark winding tunnels which deprive you of your senses and feel like they go on for eternity. This exhibition is a series of installations where you get to partake in several interactive pieces. I swallowed a pill with no questions asked. I saw what it was like to have someone else's body in upside down glasses. Some of the pieces fall flat – Pinocchio just didn’t work - I couldn't lie to myself that my nose had grown. The headsets watching the forest – I couldn’t quite concentrate through the smell of three months’ worth of visitors having worn the same headset. Or was this smell intentional? A really interesting, insightful and interactive afternoon topped off by sliding down a super-fast slide. Can’t beat that as the end to an exhibition. 


I was really excited to go this as I had read about it all Summer and everyone had been talking about it. To be honest my expectations didn't meet the reality and I was overall quite disappointed. It starts off pretty good walking through the black metal walkway and I thought my senses were going to be really in for a treat but to be honest everything was just a bit flat after that. Nobody even gave us a guidebook when we went in so we spent our time wondering what everything was supposed to represent. There was no information anywhere and I was actually really surprised to learn how short the exhibition was, there was not as much to see and do was I thought. I found the vision goggles that show you a brief video of a forest snowing where your vision is then split in different images for right and left eye headache inducing and without any explanation at the time I just found it irritating. When I took off the goggles everyone had the same "what was that supposed to be" look on their faces. The best part was the slide but that's because I just genuinely enjoy a good slide. It didn't live up to the hype for me and I wouldn't be too devastated if you don't have time to see it.


I expected so much, but there was a long queue even though it is a timed ticketing system.  I thought it would be more interactive and more decision making, but really you only had to make 2-3 decisions.  I definitely liked the claustrophobic entry.  The choice to do the hanging over the Southbank Centre bit (but it would've been a long wait so didn't bother).  Oh the upside down glasses was pretty disorientating... and the piece de resistance (sorry for the spelling), the slide which ended far too quickly!


Visited this exhibition yesterday with two fifteen year-old girls.  You enter through a long, dark tunnel where you literally have to feel your way along.  The girls I was with got quite hysterical with excitement at this experience.  You can hear voices and noise emanating all around outside the tunnel - and what adds to the illusion is that you are not sure where the noise originates from.  Would have liked to explore this bit of the exhibit on my own, to totally immerse myself in it.  You emerge onto a bewildering, huge mobile display of flying mushrooms.  In order to fully enjoy all of these installations, I would suggest that you allow time to truly explore the full extent of the displays.  My companions wanted to rush through and move on all too quickly (as only teenagers can) and this meant that I had to keep up with them.  There is something for everyone to relish here and I would recommend it, there are many visual and sensory themes.There is an opportunity to stay overnight in one of two, very slow moving beds.


Ok so I knew there'd be slides, virtual reality and things you could eat, touch and play with – didn't have to tell me twice to go check it out. Saturday afternoon was probably the worst time to go but we thought the hourly tickets would even the masses of people out. Nope, we were wrong. I'll remember this exhibition as 'the one where you had to queue for absolutely everything'.

As an art student the exhibition was fascinating I loved seeing how the mind and body could be manipulated by the slightest sense . I do feel it was slightly scarce and some of the pieces were a let down also the wiring time for some of the interactive pieces were way to long but apart from I do recommend.


This exhibit does have a few really interesting interactive activities do get involved in. The upside down glasses, dark maze at the beginning and slides to exit were all a lot of fun.

I really wanted to do the flying simulation and went to line up as soon as I got through the maze. Unfortunately one of the two flying simulators was broken and even with only about eight people in front of me, I had to wait about an hour for a turn. 

If you go, I would definitely recommend reading the explanation booklet that you're given as you go along. There aren't any written explanations posted within the exhibit so it can all seem a bit arbitrary otherwise.


Looking at the reviews, I guess it was a good thing I didn’t really know what to expect... And I’d recommend reading the flyer with explanations for the artworks: knowing the object of study of the artist is the altering of perception, confusion of senses and conscious engagement made the experience much better – and meaningful. 

The entrance prepares you for what's ahead: few minutes of disconcerting darkness gives you no choice but to accept some kind of awareness abandonment which would be the perfect state to experience the exhibition. It’s unfortunate that it is impossible to really to keep that with the crowd and the big queues for some of the artworks. Plan to stay there for a few hours: you’re going to spend some time in queues.  And I’d suggest not going alone... The queues and some of the artworks are more fun if commented on with a friend...


I’m a sucker for interactive art, so when I heard about this I got super excited.

I mean goggles that make you see the world upside down and a pitch-black tunnel maze, what more do you want? Every installation is designed to be touched, explored, played with. It’s all very fun.

Fun, but actually quite forgettable. None of the exhibit really makes you think or gives you a lasting impression. Shame. This exhibition is like the giant slides it showcases: a great buzz that lasts roughly 10 seconds…

Note: the flying machine only operates in good weather, so check the forecast!


Just like The Mole in Austin Powers, it is hard to look past the slides at this exhibition. Although the slides are the interesting exit I have ever made from a building they are merely slides, not a work of art. 

Unfortunately the remainder of this exhibition, for those that don't skip straight to the slides, is also disappointing. The upside-down goggles are worth experiencing, but more at home in a Currys store than an art exhibition. Other exhibits are far less thought-provoking, and the artistic relevance is again questionable. 

Be aware that the flying machine only functions in fair weather, so I did not get to try to that. 

A day of firsts!

I have seen numerous exhibition at the Hayward Gallery, but this by far was the best yet! 

Around every corner awaits a new mind-altering experience that is sure to intrigue! 

There are queues so it's a good idea to book an early slot to avoid the midday rush. I spent four hours exploring the exhibition so would definitely advise setting aside at least a few hours to fully immerse yourself in Holler's world!

A must see! 

It was great when staying over in the Roaming Beds; you had the whole place to yourself and there isn't any queuing nor small children. It was an experience that I'll never forget.

Staff Writer

Decent but not amazing.

The problem with a lot of "art" these days is that sometimes it goes so far over your head, you wonder whether there was actually any point to it at all. Some of the pieces here like the flickering TVs and the dual screen dark room were a let down, as was the Pinocchio effect buzzer, which didn't seem to do anything.

The pill clock and half clock were interesting, and the Forest was a bit weird but engaging enough. The queue for the flying machines was enormous so we missed out on that which was a shame. The slide is a lot of fun but you need to really push off to get any speed on it.

The definite highlights were the decision tunnel which was a bit of a shock to the system straight from the off, as you walk through a narrow metal corridor in total darkness. The other highlight was the upside down googles which are a massive head trip and a lot of fun, just maybe not for those who get dizzy or sick easily.

A mixed bunch, with high highs and disappointing lows, but worth a look if you get the chance


Too much waiting around! It's abit like being at a theme park but all of the rides you queue for are underwhelming. Seems like a mismatch of ideas, fairly interesting environments are created but not worth paying £10 to wait to experience them.

I have been to many exhibitions at The Hayward Gallery (including the Light Show and the Martin Creed show), and have always been seriously impressed. So although I did not know much about Carsten Holler's work, I trusted that it would be a good show. Unfortunately, it was seriously underwhelming... Each of the parts of the exhibition felt disjointed, as if they had all been done by separate artists. The concept of 'decision making' which was meant to be the premise, was not emphasized at all (apart from the two entrances at the beginning) and therefore there was no real profound meaning to any of the work.

It felt like the focus of the exhibition was on 'fun activities' (eg upside down glasses, virtual reality head sets and a machine that rotated you around), but even these were quite dull, and required up to an hour of queuing (on a Tuesday afternoon). It was somewhere in between an art exhibition and a playground, and did neither very well. 

The slide on the way out was fun, but not worth the ticket price alone. I'd say save your money and go elsewhere.

Bad. It really doesn't worth the price of the ticket.

The entrance is fun.... then, once you're in, you need to queue again to see the only two other interesting things of the exhibit.


Really really enjoyed it! It was completely different to any type of art I've ever experienced before, full of lots of fun, excitement and adventure. Definitely recommend it!


Even though it was practically empty when I visited (5.45pm on a Tuesday), I was a bit disappointed. Didn't really feel like there was enough STUFF to fill the space, and many of the pieces were frankly a bit dull. I know this is art rather than entertainment, but I'd expected to feel a bit more engaged with the pieces. Instead I was in and out (via the best bit – the slide) in around 20 minutes. Worth seeing, definitely, but not the boundary-smashing blockbuster I'd expected.

Take a journey to the Carsten Holler exhibition. It's such a great show. From the minute you enter the Hayward Gallery your senses are heightened as you decide to take door A or B. It's all a bit Matrix. When you get through the door you go down a dark walkway, never sure where you will end up. There are so many experiences from taking a pill to flying over London to seeing the world upside down and to exiting on that fast fantastic slide (a bit too fast for me!). I had a huge smile on my face when I left the exhibition! I highly recommend this show.